CO2-driven decrease in pH disrupts olfactory behaviour and increases individual variation in deep-sea hermit crabs

Deep-sea species are generally thought to be less tolerant of environmental variation than shallow-living species due to the relatively stable conditions in deep waters for most parameters (e.g. temperature, salinity, oxygen, and pH). To explore the potential for deep-sea hermit crabs (Pagurus tanneri) to acclimate to future ocean acidification, we compared their olfactory and metabolic performance under ambient (pH ∼7.6) and expected future (pH ∼7.1) conditions. After exposure to reduced pH waters, metabolic rates of hermit crabs increased transiently and olfactory behaviour was impaired, including antennular flicking and prey detection. Crabs exposed to low pH treatments exhibited higher individual variation for both the speed of antennular flicking and speed of prey detection, than observed in the control pH treatment, suggesting that phenotypic diversity could promote adaptation to future ocean acidification.

Kim T. W., Taylor J., Lovera C. & Barry J. P., in press. CO2-driven decrease in pH disrupts olfactory behaviour and increases individual variation in deep-sea hermit crabs. ICES Journal of Marine Science. Article (subscription required).

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